‘The Woman in Black’ Review: A Decently Scary Horror Flick That Takes Too Few Chances

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Horror movies are typically riddled with cliches and The Woman in Black is no exception. But the overuse of cliches can be forgiven since the entire movie is made like an older horror movie. The clever use of an older style makes for one of the more interesting haunted house stories in recent years.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Daniel Radcliffe is good in this film, not great. Being his first post-Potter movie, this was a very important performance for his career, and he pulls it off. The material doesn’t demand much of him and he does not try too hard to make more of the material. It is a fine performance but nothing worth writing home about (except for a film critic of course).

As for the plot, the film is rather uneven. The 90-minute running time has a definitive beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is incredibly boring. The slow build up is a snooze and only picks up once Radcliffe’s character gets to the haunted house in the middle.

The second act is where Woman in Black shines as a horror film. The middle half-hour is a relentless fright-fest that will leave you begging for it to let up.

Once the film reaches its final act, the plot finally becomes personal for Radcliffe’s character. There are a few scares and a few too many expository segments. The ending is a bit confusing in what it is trying to say. Should we feel relieved? Should we feel sad? Some may say it’s for the audience to decide for themselves, but there is no development built to these conclusions and so it falls a bit flat.

Technically, the film is incredibly spooky. The set decorations and camerawork are incredibly effective at getting scares. The setting makes this film as effectively scary as it is.

The Woman in Black will never go down as a horror classic, but it is an effective film at what it is trying to do. And it is keeping Daniel Radcliffe’s film career alive. Grade: C+

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